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On Feb. 11, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced that it denied a protest filed by the ACT and that it would change from using the ACT to using the SAT for the next three years. A State law passed last summer requires that a college entrance exam be included in the State’s assessment system.

ISBE said in a prepared statement that it is negotiating a contract with the College Board, the owner of the SAT, to administer the test this spring. ISBE added, though, that it “does not have an appropriation to administer assessments due to the budget impasse.” It is thus unclear whether the SAT will in fact be given this spring.

ISBE said it selected the SAT because that test was better aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards and is a better tool to measure what students are learning and determine whether they are prepared for college and careers than the ACT. ISBE also said it would save about $1.3 million over a three-year period by administering the SAT, rather than the ACT.

 “This means that we will no longer be reporting ACT benchmarks or ACT scores as a universal metric for our graduates,” Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, told the RoundTable. “In fact, the last year of universal testing was 2014. This renders all of our ACT results ‘historical.’ Our current seniors were not required by the State to take the ACT. The same is true of our juniors. Next year’s juniors will be given the SAT.”  

Dr. Bavis said one issue currently facing the District is how to measure “college and career readiness” for purposes of measuring progress in meeting the District’s proposed new five-year goals. He said, “The College Board stresses that ‘outcomes based solely on one predictor (e.g., test scores or grades) have consistently proved to be inferior to prediction models that employ multiple predictors,’ and ‘to question the efficacy of any college readiness models based solely on test scores.’

“Finally, it is important to point out that when it comes to college and career readiness, students are more than a test score. We are looking at multiple measures for college and career readiness growing out of the Redefining Ready work being done by the American Association for School Administrators (AASA).”

A memo prepared by Dr. Bavis and provided to School Board members for their Feb. 8 meeting listed the indicators for college readiness that have been developed at School District 214 in Arlington Heights under the title “Redefining Readiness,” and that are supported by AASA. The indicators are:

Students are deemed to be college ready if they have a high school Grade Point Average of 2.8 out of a possible 4.0, and they meet any one of the following criteria:

• Advanced Placement Exam (3+)

• Advanced Placement Course (C or better)

• Dual Credit College English and/or Math (C or better)

• Developmental English and/or Math (C or better)

• Algebra II (C or better)

• International Baccalaureate Exam (4+)

• College Readiness Placement Assessment:

       -ACT English (18), Reading (22), Science (23), Math (22);

       -SAT Exam Math (TBD), Reading and Writing (TBD).

Redefining Ready’s website says it is a national campaign launched by the AASA “to introduce new research-based metrics to more appropriately assess that students are college ready, career ready and life ready. The campaign is a response to dismal college and career readiness scores reported by standardized test makers that fail to portray a comprehensive picture of student potential.”

There does not appear to be any study that analyzes what schools students who have a high school GPA of 2.8 and meet one of the other criteria proposed by Redifining Ready – such as a C on an Advanced Placement Test – are likely to be admitted to, or whether they will likely need remedial work, or what grades they are likely to achieve in college.

One ACT study reflects that a student who had a 2.8 high school grade point average has about a 20% chance of obtaining a 3.0 grade point average in college. “Usefulness of High School Average and ACT Scores in Making College Admission Decisions” (2010), Figure 2.

Redefining Ready’s website identifies only one School Board that has supported the criteria proposed by Redefining Ready, namely School District 214. About 50 superintendents are listed as supporters.

The District 202 School Board has not yet decided what metrics it will use to measure college readiness for purposes of its proposed five-year goals.